Zainab Hawi wrote in Al-Akhbar:
About seventy couples who chose to marry civilly on Lebanese territory, or who were late in confirming their marriage contracts that they concluded abroad, are facing many administrative problems resulting from the lack of approval of the Ministry of Interior to register marriages and thus the failure to register births… up to the refusal to recognize the last marriages that took place. remotely via electronic applications.
About a year ago, Khalil Rizkallah and Nada Nehme held their civil marriage remotely, via the Zoom application, with the help of a judge in the US state of Utah. The duo took the legal path to register the marriage contract, from the Lebanese Embassy in Los Angeles, passing through the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then the Ministry of Interior. Indeed, the contract was registered, and they obtained a family record extract, only to be surprised today that the marriage was completely written off from the records of the General Directorate of Personal Status, under the pretext of the marriage contract on Lebanese soil, and thus their submission to Lebanese law, not the American state through which this marriage was concluded!
A decision surprising Rizkallah, in connection with Al-Akhbar, describing it as “arbitrary”, speaking of his possession of all legal documents for marriage, and adhering to the Lebanese embassy’s recognition of the contract and its registration accordingly in the circle of souls, especially since the repercussions of the matter affect children. Khalil became the father of a “maktoum” child, who was born about a month ago in the United States of America, but he was denied the right to register him in Lebanon after his parents’ marriage was canceled, and thus he was deprived of the rest of his rights to study, medicine and travel.
besiege civil marriage
In response to this step, Rizkallah filed an objection with the Ministry of the Interior, speaking of political and religious pressures to besiege marriages performed online, despite their legality and Lebanon’s recognition of their documents, mocking the Interior Ministry’s request that he travel to Cyprus and contract his marriage again there so that he can register his marriage!
This reality is faced by about seventy similar cases, and among these cases are those who succeeded in registering the first child and stopped registering the second, as did Kholoud Sukkariyeh and Nidal Darwish, the couple who were the first to have a civil marriage on Lebanese soil, and had the opportunity to register their marriage in Lebanon before the state retracted its decision. that. They registered their eldest son, Ghadi, in Lebanon after obtaining a family registration document, but Sukariya did not seek, as she told Al-Akhbar, to register her second son, Ralph, who was born in Sweden, after the decision of former Interior Minister Nihad al-Machnouk to stop documenting marriages in Lebanon.
Resorting to the judiciary
Many complications pertain to civil marriage, which went through different stages in Lebanon, some of which the Lebanese hoped for, especially 13 years ago after the issuance of the circular to delete sectarian records from personal status records, which opened the door to the registration of the first civil marriage in Lebanon in 2013. However, the issue entered the agenda. Political rivalries and religious references, with the suspension of marriage registration during the era of former Interior Minister Nihad al-Machnouk, after his refusal to sign contracts, so that the rosary is repeated in the vows of the rest of the interior ministers to this day.
Notary Joseph Bishara, who registered Sukariya Darwish’s marriage, talks about the existence of many obstacles that prevent civil marriages from being registered and documented in the Personal Status Department, “which prompted many of them to document religious marriages without conviction, or to travel outside the country.” In these cases, Bishara calls for “resorting to the competent judicial references to oblige the concerned employee not to violate the law, so that after that, a family record issuance is obtained, through which the individual obtains his rights in health insurance, travel, and so on. Otherwise, “the incident occurs and he is deprived of his civil rights.” .
Attorney Abbas confirms this, pointing to the problem of “the absence of children’s registration and thus depriving them of the rest of their rights, such as inheritance, for example, which the wife is also deprived of.” This happens, due to the absence of any law regulating these civil marriages, so how about if we are faced with a dispute between the spouses, which entails custody issues, so who decides here?
From civil to religious
With the freezing of this file, the Sharia courts joined in striking the formula of this marriage and benefiting from its non-registration in Lebanon. This is what happened with director Saeed Al-Marouq and his ex-wife Jihan Abu Ayed, who married in 2017 civilly. When the dispute occurred, Al-Marouq resorted to the Sunni Sharia Court, which exempts him from the consequences of the civil marriage contract on the couple in the event of separation, and he benefited from the loophole in the law here, including The couple belongs to the same sect, so the civil marriage contract is not registered in all cases.
Lawyer Ali Abbas explains, in an interview with Al-Akhbar, this loophole that prevents spouses belonging to the same sect from registering their civil marriage, and not relying on it in the event of a dispute or divorce, so one of them resorts to “liberation” from the “unified financial liability”, through the portal Sharia courts, as did the Marouk.
between inside and outside
Attorney Brigitte Chelabian distinguishes between marriage contracts concluded inside and outside Lebanon, because they differ in administrative transactions. After the conclusion of their civil marriage outside Lebanon, the spouses must go to the Lebanese embassy in the country in which the marriage took place in order for the document to be transferred to the Lebanese Foreign Ministry, and then to the Personal Status Department. . There is no doubt that this document will take a long path until it is legally established in Lebanon. As for those who are married inside the Lebanese territory, Shalabian says that their marriage contracts are not recognized, due to the absence of a personal status law, and therefore they are deprived of their right to register marriage, and this applies to births, so that a new category joins the unregistered.
The situation is not better for civil marriages outside Lebanon, who, if the registration procedures here are prolonged, will in turn join those who entered into marriage contracts at home, and their children will become unregistered. Shalabian believes that the solution lies in expediting the registration of marriage at the Lebanese embassies on the one hand, and on the other hand, waiting for the approval of a civil law on personal status, which would then allow the field to automatically register births. In the event of a dispute between the spouses, Shalabian believes that it is necessary to “refer to the law of the country in which the marriage took place and rely on its provisions, otherwise we will enter into the fray of civil and Sharia courts, which lack direct jurisdiction over the provisions of civil marriage.”